Univeg Uruguay exports 75% of its Citrus production to Europe
Univeg Uruguay is a firm devoted to the production and export of citrus and blueberries which started as a family business in 1986 and became part of the Univeg Group in 2002. Its exports are mainly shipped to Canada, Europe, Russia and some to the area of Kuala Lumpur. It has the GlobalGAP certification, both for citrus and blueberries, and a productive area of 600 hectares, mostly citrus.
“We are the country’s fourth largest citrus exporter and the third largest for blueberries,” affirms Jumil Crouzet, of Univeg Uruguay.
Regarding quality, there are no great differences with Argentina’s production. Crouzet explains that the natural conditions for citrus production are the same, but each exporter makes the difference with the way the fruit is handled at the plantations and selected at the packing plant. “Nowadays the markets are well-supplied with fruit, so for the business to be profitable it is necessary to ship great quality fruit.”
However, Uruguay will have a lower production in 2013 than in previous seasons due to the effects of the frosts in 2012; an issue affecting all exporters.
To adapt to the demands of the market, Univeg Uruguay has been converting its plantations to new varieties. “We have abandoned all Satsuma varieties and we are prepared to plant early and late harvest Clementines,” says Crouzet.
75% of the production is currently exported to Europe under two first class brands: Sealdsweet and Urufruit. The citrus sector is not as sensitive to the effects of the recession in the Old Continent, although Crouzet explains that exporters are more cautious, which prevents market oversupply.
In any case, Uruguay seeks to diversify its exports. The country recently gained access to the US market, which will most likely happen by the end of this season. “We have placed high hopes in the United States market, as it will allow Uruguay to diversify and not be as focused in Europe,” assures Crouzet.
“Uruguay has the natural conditions to produce excellent citrus and its producers have plenty of expertise, but the country has a very small domestic market, of just 3,300,000 inhabitants, so everything is planted with sights on the export market. As a result of the distance (Europe is 21 days away and the Far East over 35 days away), the export sector has gained a lot of experience and know-how and made technological advances to ensure the product arrives in good conditions,” sums up Crouzet.
In blueberries, the firm has its own production area and trade agreements with other producers in northern and southern Uruguay. In total, it controls 80 hectares and grows around eight different varieties. “In the berry market we are open to receiving more producers and we place our trust in blueberries. We see that consumption is on the rise, so for us, it is a product with a good future.”
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